The unsteady job market has been a challenge for every worker who has tried to get or stay employed. It’s been even more challenging for those classified as older workers, usually age 55 and over.
According to AARP, and a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment has hovered around nine percent, with older workers seeing a rate as high as 11 percent.
But those older workers who are employed seem to have a knack for keeping their jobs. What is their secret?
Here are some time-proven, tested techniques that keep these seniors happily employed:
· They have no concept of "under employed." Whatever went before is past. The new reality is the salary offered or responsibilities required are as much a thing of the past as the value of a home five years ago. Older workers deal with current reality. They don't hold out for what is no longer available. They are employed and enjoy doing that job well.
· They keep their network active. Older workers use social media, face-to-face networking, and events to strengthen and create new relationships. Those relationships are not about jobs or employment. They are about interests, shared experiences, and information.
· They live their lives on their own time and don't expect their jobs to provide their identity or satisfactions. It is a job and nothing more.
· They help others. They are mentors, advisors and supporters of others. They do not talk down to or feel intimidated by those who are in more senior positions and perhaps younger. They value their position within the community.
· They don't complain or whine about their career or that their boss is younger than they are. They bring to the table what is needed and only that. They do not lead with nor do they brag about all the experience and expertise they have. They depend on and relate what is relevant today, not what was.
· They never see themselves as overqualified. They know only their recent experience and expertise are relevant to landing a job. Doing the job well may rely on those skills and experiences, but it isn't relevant for landing the job. They never stress the opportunities for promotion and career advancement instead of their desire to do the job for which they are applying.
· Older workers address the fact that employers look for very specific skill sets and that skill set only. When they interview, they convey experience using the job description to tailor remarks and stories. They conclude with outcomes specific to the employer needs and ask for the job in terms of outcomes they can provide. They understand when they are turned down, it is not because of age.
· They keep their skills current. Computer skills are especially important. Depending on what type of job they seek, they are sure to be savvy on the Internet and with Windows-based programs. The focus is on word-processing, spreadsheet, database, and presentation applications.
· They seek out companies that embrace older workers: The CVS drugstore chain is one example. CVS Corp. is courting older workers and positioning themselves to attract baby boomers that plan to work in retirement. A decade ago, employees 50 and older made up about 7 percent of the CVS work force -- now they make up 14 percent.
· They consider flexible options that may be advantageous to the employer. Examples would be a compressed work week, flextime, job reassignment, job redesign, and part-time work, job sharing, phased retirement, or telecommuting. They offer to put in odd hours that younger workers with family obligations might not be able to work.
· They do not have a problem with working through a temporary or consulting company. In many instances, older workers do not need benefits such as health care. They are willing and able to work for cash.
· They get and stay involved in professional associations. They find ways to shift the emphasis away from age and toward ability to make tangible contributions. Many older workers join a professional association and then work to demonstrate their skills.
Even though asking about age is taboo, hiring managers have a good idea about age when they interview older workers. Those who get interviewed don’t look at their age as a hindrance. If they didn't get the offer, they simply did not make the sale. They know to improve their chances next time, they must review all aspects of their interview to discover how they can make themselves a more compelling candidate.
It’s the attitude that can separate the older worker from the pack. They know that they have a lot to offer a company.
Job candidates of all ages could benefit from the way that older workers approach the job search and retention process.